Women in STEM wins ‘Best Club’ in Best of Sac State 2021 poll

Why this club is so important for women STEM majors at Sac State

Colin Madigan

Women in STEM was voted “Best Campus Club” in The State Hornet’s fifth annual Best of Sac State poll.

“It’s so surreal, I’m really happy for the club,” said club vice president Brittney Saverimuttu, 22, who is a kinesiology major minoring in biological science.

Women in STEM is a fairly new club, founded two years ago during the spring 2019 semester.

“It was just so nice to meet so many other women who are in the STEM field and see how excited they were to come together and just hang out and support one another and share their experiences,” said 24-year-old Mikayla Mallow, a biological science major with an emphasis in clinical lab science and newly appointed president of the club.

The Sac State Academic Clubs and Organizations page says that the club is meant to unite women who are in STEM careers and majors to serve young women in the community.

“We definitely do a lot of community service, or community service-based events, where we go out to the community and we serve elementary schools, the younger population,” Saverimuttu said. “We try to give them the opportunity to see and experience science in some form, and it’s usually really fun to do those outreach events.”

Also according to the page, the benefits of membership include professional development, recognition as an inspiring leader on campus, and making an impact on another woman’s life.

“We have hosted meetings with other faculty and students where the female clubs will come together, and they’ll get to speak to professors in that profession to see how it is to be a woman in that field, which I think is really empowering,” Mallow said.

Biological science major and current club president Seham Aldafari’s favorite parts of the club is the focus the club puts on past and present women in science, technology, engineering and math.

“We do a huge presentation on historical women in STEM, so we bring to life past women in STEM as well as present women in STEM, and it’s been a very successful event,” Aldafari said.

Aldafari also said that women often feel like they don’t belong in STEM fields and that it’s extremely important to see that other women have made successful careers in the fields and that they can do it too.

Most kids think of a scientist as an older, white male in a lab coat, like that’s a scientist right?

— Krystal Jackson, social media director for Women in STEM

Women have struggled for years to enter the STEM fields. According to an article by the United States Census Bureau, in 2019, women only made up 27% of workers in STEM fields. The disparity exists despite similar achievement among children of all genders in math and science, according to Catalyst.

“It’s a systemic thing, it goes really way back like children, when you’re a kid and you think of a scientist, we’ve seen time and time again, we’ve talked about it, representation matters,” said Krystal Jackson, the club’s newly appointed social media director and biological science major with an emphasis in biochemical sciences. “Most kids think of a scientist as an older, white male in a lab coat, like that’s a scientist right?”

Jackson said one of the major things the club wants to accomplish is to change the representation in scientists.

“Show children that this is what a scientist looks like, and a scientist can look like a lot of different things, including being a woman,” Jackson said.

When women do accomplish entering the STEM fields, they also leave faster, according to Catalyst. Women, especially those who are working parents, leave STEM careers at disproportionately higher rates than men.

“Women who choose to pursue careers that take a while tend to be seen as selfish and that they don’t really care about family in general, and so that’s definitely something as a society that we need to improve on,” Aldafari said.

Aldafari said that the club provides a needed place for women to support other women in the field.

“I think it’s really important to have a space to foster that support, to empower each other to keep going, because often we do feel like quitting, and it is really hard.” Aldafari said. “So, I think it’s important to have a club like this on every campus, just to support each other and make each other feel comfortable and empowered to keep going.”